Technology has brought about many changes for the construction industry and more specifically construction project management. With greater availability of e-mail, FTP sites and cloud-based storage solutions, more contractors are sharing documents electronically. Unfortunately, while these tools make file sharing easier and faster than dealing with paper documents, they have created new issues for contractors in the construction bidding process – issues that can add considerable cost and risk to projects. This guide discusses the top construction file-sharing and control problems faced by today’s contractors and how to address them.
When paper dominated the construction industry, the role of managing the many drawings, specifications, permits, change orders and other documents typically fell on one designated person. He or she had a specific process for receiving updates from designers, making copies, and updating the master set that lived at the construction trailer. This set was considered the bible to everyone on the project, and it was everybody’s responsibility to check it daily for updates. While this paper-based process was time-consuming, inconvenient and mistake-prone, it worked for the most part due to the trusted process.
Today, when a change is made to a file, there is little to no insight as to who has seen it and if the people who need to see it have seen it. As technology has helped the migration from paper to digital, the responsibility for document control has become decentralized and shifted from one to many. This approach has created a fundamental problem for many construction projects: no unified set of document records exists that tell the complete story of a construction project. This is due to the exponential increase of design and specification iterations. With more files to distribute and keep track of, file sharing has become much more complex and prone to errors, as there is no one person in charge of construction project management.
You can protect yourself from costly mistakes and achieve better outcomes for your projects by adopting a standardized file-sharing process managed by one person. You should house project documents in a single accessible and controlled environment and use a best-in-class file-sharing and collaboration tool designed for managing construction documents.
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